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my thanks to all who have shared their ideas about intro textbooks--and
especially to jason mittell for calling my attention to chris cagle's
remarkably helpful blog post comparing all the leading texts, a resource
that anyone thinking about this question would do well to use . . .  the
web address is:
http://categoryd.blogspot.com/2006/11/intro-textbook-comparison.html

but jason's post includes a distinction that seems to me perhaps worth
pursuing on list . . . he writes that 

	if understanding the formal system of film, is the goal of the
course then FILM ART is probably the best option [but] If  [the goals
is] introducing a broader range of theoretical approaches to film,
Corrigan & White's FILM EXPERIENCE is excellent.

. . .and what i find somewhere between fascinating and troubling is the
implied distinction between "formal system" and "theoretical approach" .
. . i of course recognize how much contemporary thinking about cinema is
concerned mainly with what for convenience i'll call its ideological
work, and recognize too that such work may exceed the frames of
reference provided by conventional mise-en-scene or montage analysis

but -- and it's a big BUT -- shouldn't an intro to cinema course focus
not merely on the ideological content as such that gets inscribed in
cinema but on the way the "formal system" of cinema is used for
ideological ends? . . . put somewhat differently, shouldn't a truly
cinematic "theoretical approach" also be at the very same time an
inquiry into the "formal system" of film? . . . critics ranging from
bazin to mulvey have explored the ways in which formal systems are used
for cultural or philosophical or ideological purposes  -- and i would
imagine that an analysis of the way the formal properties of the moving
image are deployed for larger cultural purposes should be at the center
of any theoretical approach to film . . . so -- the question -- does the
distinction jason makes serve us well or does it serve us badly?

mike

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